Hoping to Answer the Question

There's no secret to what No.12 Wisconsin has under center for its primetime match-up against Ohio State, as senior Russell Wilson is a Heisman candidate because of his gaudy passing numbers. The Buckeyes, however, are more of a mystery, and they hope freshman Braxton Miller will provide some positive answers.

COLUMBUS, Ohio - If Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema had his way, Ohio State would not be the next team on the Badgers' football schedule.

Not only are the Buckeyes coming off their best victory of the season, a 17-7 road victory at Illinois, Ohio State has had an extra week to prepare for a Wisconsin attack that hasn't changed while the Badgers are still trying to figure out exactly what the Ohio State offense is all about.

"To have a bye week right before us really kind of keeps us in question of what they're going to do," Bielema said. "From an offensive point of view, you kind of wish you had a couple more game films … just to see where they're going. They look more and more like the traditional Ohio State as they get further into the season."

When No.12 Wisconsin kicks off against Ohio State at Ohio Stadium at 7 p.m. tonight, the Badgers are conscious to the fact that the Buckeyes have used to bye week to put a high priority on injecting more life into their passing attack.

Since Terrelle Pryor skipped out on his senior season to avoid suspension, the Buckeyes have yet to find a stable passing game, a reason Ohio State has sputtered offensively.

Senior Joe Bauserman started the team first three games but has struggled when the competition improved. With head coach Luke Fickell dropping Bauserman to third in the depth chart behind sophomore Kenny Guiton, it's apparent that true freshman Braxton Miller is going to get the opportunity.

One of just three true freshmen starting at the FBS level and only one of three freshmen to start at quarterback for the Buckeyes, Miller has played in six games, completing 26-of-51 passes for 403 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions.

Miller is 2-2 as a starter but hasn't ignited the Buckeyes' offense as much as anxious fans would have hoped, which was evident by his 1-of-4 passing performance against Illinois. Entering tonight's game, Ohio State ranks 110th in the country in total offense (302.9) and 115th in passing yards (127.9).

It's a stark contrast to what the Ohio State defense is going to face in Wisconsin senior quarterback Russell Wilson, who leads the Big Ten and is second nationally in passing efficiency.

"We're just approaching it with what we see on film," said linebacker Mike Taylor. "We practice a lot of different things with Braxton in or Bauserman in. They are both great quarterback, one runs better than the other and one may throw better than the other, but they both can do different things that you have to be prepared for whatever you see on film."

There is only one person on Wisconsin that knows exactly what Miller is capable of. Getting to play with Miller for three seasons at Wayne HS in Huber Heights, Ohio, Harrison saw the evolution first hand of how the 6-3 quarterback has grown.

"He's a nice dude and he picked up his work ethic a lot coming into his junior year," Harrison said. "He's a competitor and a really good athlete, obviously."

After Harrison left, Miller – who chose Ohio State over 20-plus offers - led Wayne High School to the Division I state title game in 2010 while passing for 2,167 yards and 17 TDs while rushing for 658 yards and 17 TDs as a senior. He had a career record of 31-7 over three seasons and was a finalist for Ohio's Mr. Football.

"From what I saw, the coaches were working with him on the development part, reading coverages and what not, but just playing football is a gift that he has," Harrison said. "He worked a lot on his own and come his junior year, he hit the weight room hard, which really helped his development as well. He's grown a lot with the knowledge of what to do with the ball."

Although his performance against the Illini is misleading, there is no question that Miller brings a spark. Rushing for a season-high 91 yards and completing 5 of 8 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown, Miller helped Ohio State lead 27-6 lead at No. 14 Nebraska.

Much like the Wisconsin's offense was with Wilson last Saturday, the Buckeyes sputtered when Miller struggled. His third quarter fumble just inside of the 8 minute mark led to a quick Cornhusker score and he left the game for good on his next series with a sprained ankle. The Cornhuskers eventually rallied with 28 consecutive points to claim a 34-27 victory.

Ohio State will need more balanced play-calling to confuse a Wisconsin defense which ranks ninth nationally allowing 286.7 total yards per game, not to mention fourth in passing defense, sixth in scoring defense, ninth in red zone defense and 10th in first downs allowed.

"They run most of the same sets and throw a few wrinkles in there with Braxton," linebacker Chris Borland said. "The main thing to understand is when Braxton is in there, you can't let your rush lanes on pass get too spread out so he doesn't get out in scramble. Braxton has similar speed (to Pryor), but probably better cutting and agility.

"They didn't have to throw the ball much (against Illinois) because of its defense played great and they ran the ball well. We'll be prepared for it."


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